A Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections employee is working on postal ballot processing at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Monday, November 2, 2020. (AP Photo / John Bazemore)

As of 2005, Georgia law allows anyone over the age of 18 to request a postal vote. The 2020 presidential election resulted in a record turnout. Records were broken in Georgia last year when voter turnout rose nearly 9 percentage points from 59.1% to 67.6% compared to 2016. This is due to years of grassroots organization and the efforts of the constituencies to combat voter intimidation, voter suppression and increase the voter turnout of the minority electorate.

Inspired by the aftermath of the 2020 general election and fueled by complaints from former President Donald J. Trump, Georgia Republicans have tabled a bill that would severely limit the number of Georgians who can vote via email.

Senate Bill 71 would reduce the categories for which a voter can request a postal vote. The bill states that a person can only request a postal vote if they are disabled and have a doctor’s letter who is 75 years old or older or who will not be in town on election day.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga.

“I wouldn’t call it backwards. I would call it a manageable, more respectable form of voting, ”said Mullis.

Mullis and fourteen Republicans signed the letter submitted by the Texas Supreme Court that the electoral process in Georgia was fraudulent.

“This unrestricted electoral repression by radical Senate Republican leadership seems to appease conspiracy theorists like those who stormed the Capitol last month,” tweeted Seth Bringman, spokesman for Fair Fight. “Their desperation to hold onto power at the expense of Georgians’ constitutional right to vote has never been more evident.”

Thirty-four states, including Georgia, allow any qualified voter to vote in absentia without having to provide an apology, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The state Republicans also introduced Senate Draft 67, which requires a voter to produce either their driver’s license number or personal ID card number or a photocopy of their ID when requesting a postal vote.

State Senator Butch Miller, a Republican from Gainesville, is a co-sponsor of the bills.

“I want every legal vote to be counted, and I want better access for all voters. Accusing our reform efforts of repression is simply a political tactic, ”Miller said in a written statement. “Even those of us who have never claimed the election was stolen recognize that voters have lost confidence in the legitimacy of the system.”

According to Pew Research, voting rights in Georgia grew 1.9 million between 2000 and 2019, with nearly half of that increase being attributable to the growth of the state’s black electoral population. The black, Latin American, and Asian electoral blocs grew 10% compared with an 11% decline in white voters.

State Senator Elena Parent called the bill a “many-headed monster” of voter repression after President Joe Biden and US Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won free and fair elections.

“There is no evidence of fraud in the recent Georgia election,” the parent tweeted. “Now the GA Senate Republicans have (a) introduced a series of bills to try to prevent the multiracial, multi-age coalition they elected from voting. Desperate and shameful. ”

In addition to Senate Bill 71, there are three other bills that go through sub-committees. First, Senate Draft 89 would create a “Chief Elections Assistance Officer” within the State Secretary who would be responsible for intervening in underperforming electoral offices in the district.

Another proposal, Senate Bill 93, would restrict the use of mobile voting buses for emergencies. The bill came after Fulton County deployed mobile voting buses across the county in the early voting period, which allowed people to cast ballots on the buses on the state’s voting machines.

All four bills will now be passed on to the entire Senate ethics committee and could possibly be passed on Thursday.